Skywatch November 2016

Skywatch November 2016

An interesting November for planets is ahead of us; we lose Saturn and regain Mercury in November, as Venus and Mars, opposites in myth, behave in a similar, steady manner. We have the biggest brightest full moon in decades on the night of November 13-14, and our continental friends and family go off of Daylight Saving Time.

Planets in November 2016

Venus: queen of the sunset sky

As in October, so in November: Venus is that blazing light you see in the western sky at dusk all month. At minus 4 magnitude, Venus far outshines all other points of light in the sky. The planet’s appearance remains fairly consistent all month. In early November, Venus emerges about 1/4thof the way up in the western sky as it gets dark, and sets 8 p.m.  My month’s end, Venus is 1/3 of the way up in the west at dark, and sets at 8:40 p.m.

In early November, you can still catch the planet Saturn just to the right of Venus; yellow-white Saturn shines at 0.5 magnitude, quite respectable but nowhere near as bright as Venus. On November 2 at dusk, look for the slender crescent moon just above Saturn and Venus as it gets dark.

Saturn vanishes

Saturn will appear a little lower in the west at dusk throughout early November. By the middle of November, Saturn will be only about six degrees the width of three fingers) above the western horizon as it gets dark around 6:40 p.m., and will set less than 30 minutes later. After the middle of the month we will lose Saturn in the sun’s light; the ringed planet will emerge as a predawn object in the late December sky.

Mars consistent but fading

Like Venus this month, Mars holds steady in November; in this case emerging halfway up in the southwest at dusk and setting around 10:30 p.m. In the course of the month Mars continues its slow fade from its blazing glory of this past spring, dropping from 0.3 magnitude in early November to 0.6 at the end of the month.

Look for the waxing crescent moon next to Mars on November 5.

Jupiter: king of the predawn sky

In early November Jupiter rises in the east at 4:45 a.m. and is well up in the eastern sky at daybreak. By the end of the month it rises at 3 a.m. and is halfway up the eastern sky at daybreak Jupiter shines around minus 1.7 in November, dimmer than normal for the king of the planets but still brighter than any star.

Look for the waning crescent moon next to Jupiter before dawn on November 24 and 25.

Mercury – blink and you’ll miss it!

You have a very narrow window to see Mercury at the end of November. By the 30th Mercury emerges at dusk, a mere 6 degrees (the width of three fingers) above the western horizon; the elusive planet emerges around 6:15 p.m. and sets by 6:50 p.m. To catch it, look over a flat horizon such as the sea; Mercury shines at minus 0.5 and sets in the west southwest.

Other sky events in November

The end of Daylight Saving Time

Daylight Saving Time ends at 2 a.m. on Sunday November 6 for most of continental US and Canada. Hawai‘i of course does not observe Daylight Saving Time, but it still has some impacts on our island life. As of November 6, if you call friends or family on the east coast, they will be only five hours ahead of us, rather than six hours we have during DST; and the west coast will be a mere two hours ahead of Hawai‘i Standard Time.

Second supermoon of 2016 is closest full moon of the year, and more   

On the evening of November 13-14 we second and brightest of three full moon ‘supermoons’ in a row. The moon will be a little closer to earth than average for a full moon, and thus will be a little bigger and brighter than a normal full moon. In fact, as explained below, this is the ‘super-est’ full moon in an 84 year period.

A moon is officially ‘full’ when the sun, earth and moon are in a straight line, with the earth in between the two other celestial bodies. The moon is full at 3:52 a.m. on November 14 HST. At that time, there is a straight line between sun, earth and moon.

The term supermoon just refers to a full moon that occurs when the moon is within one day of ‘perigee,’ the moon’s closest approach to earth in its monthly orbit. What makes this November moon the biggest/brightest full moon of 2016 is that the moment of the full moon (again, 3:52 a.m. on November 14 Hawai‘i Standard Time) occurs soon after the moment when the moon is nearest to the earth in its monthly orbit, which happens at 1:23 a.m. HST on November 14, a mere 2.5 hours before the moon is full. At that moment of perigee at 1:23 a.m., the moon will be a mere 221,524 miles away, if you measure from the center of the earth to the center of the moon; 30,000 miles closer than it is during its most distant point in the moon’s orbit around the earth. This makes for the brightest ‘supermoon’ till November 25, 2034. Since we haven’t had a full moon this close since January 26, 1948, this makes the November 13-14 moon the closest full moon in an 84 year stretch.

November Sky Map

Like all of our monthly maps, this one is good for 10 p.m. on the first day of the month, 9 p.m. for the middle of the month, and for 8 p.m. at the end.

Moon phases (Hawaiian Time zone):

New: October 30, November 29
First Quarter: November 7
Full: November 14
Third Quarter: November 20

A busy November for Bishop Museum’s J. Watumull Planetarium!

After a successful debut last fall, laser light shows have returned to Bishop Museum.  From November 1 through 23 we are featuring Laser Perseus and Andromeda: Legends of the Night Sky daily at 12 noon and 2:30 p.m. (25 minutes). Experience the story of Perseus, Andromeda, Pegasus, and Pegasus, familiar from two separate Clash of the Titans films, as it comes to life in vivid laser animation. The program also occurs on Fridays and Saturdays from November 4 – 19 at 7 p.m.

From November 25 through the end of December we’ll feature our post popular laser program from last year, Laser Holidays, at noon and 2:30 p.m. Laser lights will dance to Christmas classics that range from “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” to “White Christmas” to “Sleigh Ride.”  Laser Holidays also shows on Friday and Saturday nights from November 25 – Dec 31 at 7 p.m.

Evening rock shows run throughout November as well on Fridays and Saturdays, with Laser Zeppelin at 8 p.m. (no Zeppelin show November 5 or 19) and Laser Floyd Dark Side the Moon at 9 p.m.

Stars and Guitars continues on the first and third Saturdays at 8 p.m. (November 5 and 19), with live classical guitar music interspersed into the show. This November we’ll also be adding some laser effects to the Stars and Guitars experience!

Finally, we’re also featuring the planetarium theater piece The Boy who Fell in Love with a Star, developed by and starring story tellers/performers Jeff Gere and Adela Chu. The 35-minute show runs on weekends at 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. on November 5, 6, 11, 12 and 13. This charming program, ideal for preschoolers and early elementary students and any big people with them, is an encore of a program first developed by Jeff and Adela in the 1980s.

Please visit the planetarium website for more information on our action-packed November:

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2017-06-05T12:04:44+00:00Monthly Astronomy Article|